BUDAPEST (Apr. 12)
Thanks to the Jewish law, no intelligent, capable young Gentile is without a job in Hungary today. Also thanks to the Jewish law, several thousand equally intelligent, equally capable young Hungarian Jews can’t even get a job sweeping streets. That is the real tragedy of Hungary’s anti-Semitic legislation.
The Jewish law, while not so severe nor so humiliating as comparable laws in Germany, is nevertheless highly destructive to morale, especially to the morale of youth. Instead of shunting superfluous Jews into new or different channels of economic activity–where they would not conflict with Magyar ambitions and might even benefit the Hungarian economy–the Jewish law is completely negative. It removes the Jew from his traditional place in life and makes it impossible for him to assume another, however much lower in the economic scale. And it makes the Jewish youth an outcast from the start.
Many Jews who have been deprived of their jobs have attempted to enter hither to neglected branches of farming, such as the growing of nuts, rare wines, and luxury fruits. Yet, even though they would not be competing with Magyar farmers, who devote themselves mainly to the raising of livestock and cereal crops, and would in fact be opening up new fields for Hungarian agriculture, this, too, is prohibited to Jews. For one of the provisions of the law is that no Jew henceforth may own a plot of ground larger than an urban building lot. Moreover, a license would be required to export such farm produce, and the law specifically limits to six per cent the number of Jewish licensees in the future–which means a wait of at least 30 years, until the present percentage of 30 to 40 has been reduced to six.
Meanwhile, all Jewish landed proprietors are rapidly being expropriated. One of the proposals the Jewish Community has made to the Hungarian government is that it be allowed to finance and carry out a Jewish land rehabilitation project on the alkali wastelands of southern Hungary, between the Danube and Tisza rivers.
Half a century ago an independent Swiss agriculturalist bought up a large section of useless sand dunes near Kecskemet. After a few years, by scientific irrigation and fertilization, he was able to convert the land into profitable orchards and vineyards. Since then, tens of thousands of impoverished peasants have settled on this rehabilitated land, to the great benefit of the Hungarian economy. The region around Kecskemet and Nagykoros is now the most valuable fruit and green vegetable district in all of Hungary.
The Jews now want to be enabled to repeat this example. They ask nothing of the Government but the right to convert a wilderness into a garden. Their project would be financed by wealthy members of the Jewish community, with perhaps the aid of the Joint Distribution Committee, whose Hungarian funds are now being expended on simple unemployment relief for Jews who could make themselves economically useful overnight, if only allowed to do so.
So far, however, the Government has shown no interest in such proposals for solving the “Jewish problem” through the efforts of the Jews themselves.
One of the stock answers of anti-Semites here to the criticism that the law allows no opportunity to make a living, even as simple workers or farmers, is that Jews have never labored by the sweat of their brows, and that their only interest in life has been to make money at the expense of toiling Gentiles. The inaccuracy of this point of view, according to Hungarian Jews, is proved by the fact that at present there are five times as many Jewish applicants as there are places open for apprentice farm laborers on the large estates of the magnates and the Church.
To date, several hundred young Jews, many of them high school graduates, have been permitted to work for their board and keep, as student farmers, on idle Church-owned lands. But there are still several thousand young Jews still waiting for such an opportunity — an opportunity that may never come.
An even more striking example of the desire of young Hungarian Jews to solve their economic problem in any way, however humble, is the fact that more than 2,000 upper-middle-class Jewish girls have so far emigrated to England to take jobs as domestic servants.
But these are isolated cases. The great majority of young Hungarian Jews have not yet been allowed to adapt themselves to new ways of life. Those who can be, are being supported in idleness by their families. Those whose families are too poor to support them must either accept alms from the J.D.C. and other relief organizations, or must eke out a miserable existence doing odd jobs for friends and acquaintances or engaging in what has now become illicit commerce–street selling, speculation, and touting.
Thus an ever-growing body of embittered Jewish youth is being created in Hungary, a youth which must still perform military service and defend its country, but whose country denies it most of the human rights worth defending.